When you think of Italian cuisine, pasta in one of its glorious forms is probably what springs to mind.
Pasta is the staple food of Italians and has found a place as the ultimate comfort food for many more people. Made simply using flour, eggs, and salt it comes to life when accompanied by the wonderful sauces from the region.
Marco Polo is often credited with introducing pasta to Italy from China in the 13th Century, however pasta was already gaining popularity in the region before that. Others believe the nomadic Arabs brought it westwards, but wherever it originated, it found its place in Italy as an affordable, versatile food.
Chef Luigi, head Italian chef at Belfast’s newest Indian/Italian fusion restaurant Mumbai Milano said: “Pasta dishes vary depending on the region of Italy they come from with stronger flavoured dishes containing lots of garlic and chilli being popular in the south, fish-based sauces from the coastal areas, and more delicate, creamy sauces with filled pasta such as ravioli and tortellini in the north.
“Pasta comes in a range of shapes and in authentic Italian cuisine long pastas such as spaghetti and linguine are used in quick-cook, light sauces while short shapes such as penne are paired with more robust sauces.”
What varieties of pasta shapes are there?
Long strands of pasta often serves in Italy with a fresh tomato sauce or just drizzled in olive oil with garlic and chillies, or with cheese and pepper. You will never find Spaghetti Bolognese on an authentic Italian menu
Long like spaghetti, but thicker and flatter which makes it a good pairing with creamier sauces, giving them a larger surface area to coat.
Short, hollow tubes of pasta cut at an angle often served with thicker tomato and vegetable sauces.
Little corkscrew twists of pasta which are perfect for sauces containing meat, or for use in pasta bakes.
Shell shaped pasta, their cup like shape perfect is perfect for catching heavier sauces or for using in baked pasta dishes.
Twists of pasta with crinkly edges hold sauces on their wing like shape. They are also great to use in pasta salads.
Tiny tubes most commonly found baked in a luscious cheese sauce in what has become one of the world’s favourite dishes.
These sheets of pasta give the name to one of the most famous dishes when layered with meat or vegetable sauce, topped with white sauce and cheese.
Mumbai Milano, 11 Wellington Place, Belfast is open 7 days a week. Lunchtime is an all-you-can eat buffet every day and their a la carte menu is available from 5pm. Book your table by calling 028 9031 1101 or log onto mumbaimilano.co.uk for more information.